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Teens and eBooks – a #YALSA / #ALA2013 discussion

Posted by lpearle on 3 July 2013

pace Freud, what do teens want?

That’s the question that the roundtable I attended considered – and the overall sense was that, as with men vis-a-vis women, we just don’t know what teens want when it comes to e-books/e-readers.  We do have a few ideas, however:

  • it’s population specific – don’t trust national polls, as trends change from town to town and school to school.
  • platform agnosticity is especially important if you’re considering a BYOD program.
  • teens use reference ebooks far more than fiction ebooks – there’s no real evidence that they are using ereaders or apps to read for pleasure.
  • one huge problem: adults borrowing YA ebooks wrecks havoc with stats – we know the book is popular, but don’t know who’s reading it
  • don’t make the book native to the device (avoids age issues, platform issues, etc.)

The process needs to be seemless, even two clicks can be one click too many.  Why can’t whatever system (Follett Shelf, Overdrive,  B&T’s Access 360, etc.) be as easy to use as iTunes?

Teens also don’t understand – or care – about publisher problems.  They want their book NOW and don’t want to hear that this publisher isn’t providing an e-version (or a library e-version).  Holds? They don’t want no stinkin’ holds – it’s an e-version, right?  How can there be a limit to how many are using/reading it at one time?

As an adult, I understand that: earlier this year I had the pleasure of discovering Cara Black’s mysteries thanks to a publisher-provided ARC on Edelweiss.  I had a trip coming up and wanted to read another on my Kindle – only the immediate previous book was available in e-version.  Two of twelve volumes available?  Disappointing!

Of course, it’s not just about publisher problems, it’s about knowing what to buy.  Reading blogs, getting recommendations from friends and family are the usual ways students find out about their next read.  Why not create genre consultants?  As your teens what you should be purchasing (keeping budget and age constraints in mind).  Put them in charge of a part of the budget (e.g., give the fantasy consultant $150 to “buy” books with) – not only do you get great support from the consultant, word-of-mouth will tell others how responsive you are and how wonderful the collection is.  Our new mantra needs to be Patron Driven Acquisition.

What about foreign languages?  Creating a collection of ebooks in French, Spanish, Chinese, etc. can be a good resource for ESL readers and those studying the language.

Current wisdom is that the OPAC is dead – no one uses it.  So how do we promote our collections, e- and print?

  • create displays of Fiction/Nonfiction books that relate to popular movies, tv series
  • use Pinterest
  • promote via GoodReads/LibraryThing/Shelfari (students love the social aspect – just be careful to separate your reading from the library’s collection)
  • Subtext can be a great book group tool, in addition to being used by teachers for curricular-related reading.  Of course, you need to be aware of what books are available in the app and it is only available for Apple products (seriously – why aren’t these people providing multi-platform tools?!)

Courtney Lewis has been doing action research on her students and reading – there’s an article in the fall YALS on her previous study, and she’s re-doing it this year (four years is a lifetime in a school, and several in tech land).  Despite what we “know” about teens not reading, her data shows different.  We need to promote that – it may not be reading canon literature, but it is reading!  She’ll share her new data via GoogleDoc – just ask her!

 

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